Yoel Romero: The Mutant Hero We Deserve

I’m pretty sure that Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero is not really an infantryman appointed by the Lord himself, but I can’t say I’d be all that surprised if it turned out he was. The Olympian wouldn’t look out of place on Olympus, leering over his mythical sires; he already looks as though he has been chiselled from marble.

Romero made his MMA debut on December 20, 2009, winning via first-round TKO, but it seems like most of his career has occurred over the last few months. Not that he had entirely evaded headlines before that, though. The #StoolGate controversy was a well-documented fiasco at UFC 178 that saw Romero, badly hurt at the end of the second round, take an extra 30 seconds on his stool. Many people (including the crowd, his opponent, Tim Kennedy, who Romero knocked out in the next round, and UFC President Dana White) considered this to be a dirty trick; a fighter cheating by snatching an additional half-minute of recovery time. And that could very well be true. But Romero was also smothered in Vaseline by the UFC’s officially-appointed cornerman, which referee “Big” John McCarthy instructed Romero’s corner team to remove – a slippery logistical error made slipperier by McCarthy’s instructions being delivered in English, to people who don’t speak or understand English. (As far as unintentionally funny officiating goes, that’s right up there with Steve Mazzagatti asking deaf light-heavyweight Matt Hamill if he was able to continue, and then waving the fight off when he didn’t answer.)

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UFC Fight Night: Bermudez vs Korean Zombie – Breakdown & Predictions

Yeah, I know his name is Chan Sung Jung. But if you don’t prefer “The Korean Zombie” in any and all circumstances, this breakdown isn’t for you.

Anyway.

After last week’s decent card in the oxygen-starved climes of Denver, Colorado, we’re straight back at it with another well-matched MMA show that’s lacking in big-name value but full of intriguing fights – including the long-awaited return of a perennial fan-favourite and a classic veteran vs. prospect matchup in the women’s strawweight division. It’s hardly a stacked affair, but if it helps just think of this as an appetizer for next week’s big, numbered main course.

Let’s get on with it.

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Royal Rumble 2017 – Predictions

It has been a while, folks.

I know all that “new year, new me” shit is a complete cliché, but I honestly was waiting around for 2017’s epoch before I dove back into complaining about WWE. It just made sense. So much happened during the long drought of 2016 that to jump back into it for a random pay-per-view felt like it would raise more questions than it answered. Thinking about it, this is going to be the first show that I’ve covered since the brand split, and that’s a can of worms on its own. So, let’s make a deal. I’ll keep the coverage up from now on, pinky promise, and you lot just assume I know what’s going on. Okay? Okay.

Besides, this seems like as good a place to jump back in as any other. Better, even. It’s the first pay-per-view show of the year. It’s the first of the Big Four – the others being Survivor Series, SummerSlam and WrestleMania – to take place since the brand split, the implementation of the cruiserweight division, and a handful of other significant changes to the product. It’s the Royal Rumble, for fuck’s sake. Everyone loves the Royal Rumble.

It’s also slated to be a six-hour show. That’s a long time. It’s a long time to spend doing anything, but it’s a particularly long time to spend watching pro-wrestling. We’ll definitely have plenty to talk about. That, though, is for Monday. Until then, let’s take a look at the event, see what’s what, and make some wild prognostications about the potential outcomes.

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UFC on Fox: Shevchenko vs. Pena – Breakdown & Predictions

After one paltry event since the turn of the new year, Saturday’s UFC on Fox event in Denver, Colorado, kick-starts four consecutive weekends of UFC action. If you were expecting some big-name value you’re not going to find it here, but all the same this is a fun, well-matched card with some serious implications for multiple divisions going forward into the rest of 2017.

Without further ado…

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UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Penn – Breakdown & Predictions

Welcome, folks, to the first fight card of 2017. I’d love to say it’s a can’t-miss show, but frankly I’m struggling to think of some compelling reasons for why you’d want to watch it at all. Everything comes with a caveat. UFC Hall of Fame inductee BJ Penn makes his return, after a 30-month absence and a string of disastrous fights that have been legitimately difficult to watch. He’s spent time training in Albuquerque, California and Hawaii, he’s competing at featherweight, and he’s likely to be cornered by a superstar tag-team of Jason Parillo, Mike Winklejohn and Greg Jackson. There’s a good possibility that a well-trained and motivated BJ Penn could deliver a redemptive performance worthy of his legacy; and he could just as easily get killed by one of the most dynamic and exciting young fighters on the UFC roster. See? Caveats.

Elsewhere, we have a string of well-matched fights that, unfortunately, mostly feature low-level fighters – some of them barely keeping their foot in UFC’s door. The co-main event is interesting and could potentially be excellent, but the bantamweight clash between Jimmie Rivera and Bryan Caraway that it’s replacing had more intriguing title implications. On and on it goes. A lot of these matches have real promise, but their long-term importance is questionable at best and the card overall is a bit of a dud. Still. Happy new year and all that.

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